I received a message from my brother-in-law, Ron, that he would like to start writing a column after he retires from the military. He completed 20 years service on Sept. 12 and is on his final leg.
About two-thirds of that time he served in the regular Air-Force and about one-third in the reserve program.
He actually has spent more time overseas since he became a reserve than he did while in the full time Air Force.
He has toured the world, including a couple of tours in South Korea and Iraq. He also had a couple of tours in Germany where he treated young men and women when they were shipped back from the war zone.
He and I started in the newspaper business about a year apart. He had grown up in the business and I was a new comer.
His dad, Bryce, was the confident and mentor for both of us. In many ways it was probably easier for me to take advice than it was for him since I started from scratch and was largely seeking advice from any available source.
He on the other hand had worked in a newspaper from the time he was a child and probably thought he knew everything by the time he was 20 or so.
It quickly became apparent that each of us had our strong points. He was better at the editorial side. He wrote a great column. He tended not to deal a lot with local matters but it was very humorous and sometimes biting. It was a great read.
I survived a little better in the community and with the advertisers.
We each ran weekly newspapers located about 90 miles apart. The two towns were about the same size. Just small towns.
It soon became apparent that the schools in my town won all the athletic events. The business climate was a little better in our town and the newspaper in our town ran a few more pages than the newspaper in his town.
Life went on and we enjoyed a lot of good moments with our newspapers and enjoyed life with our extended families as they grew up.
As the end of our 30's decade began to draw to a close we both had the urge to do something different. Thankfully my urge was not as great as his.
If I had had my druthers we would have gone together and bought a bigger paper. He could have been the editor and I would have taken care of the advertising and business matters.
But that was not to be.
He had been a volunteer EMT for years and chose to go into nursing full time.
After earning his RN degree from the University of Nebraska he decided to join the Air Force. He had strong leadership qualities and was probably smarter than the average yokel. He advanced through the ranks and today he is a Lt. Colonel.
This split in our family led Jan and I to ultimately settle in Silsbee. I thought at first that I might like working for a daily.
I got a management position with one where I had worked before. It took me almost no time to realize that I did not like having someone tell me how to run a newspaper. I saw them making decisions that I would never have made on my own. There really was not much I liked about it.
Jan and I agreed that we would take the money we had made from selling our newspaper in Colorado and combine it with the money we got from selling our home which was nearly paid for to buy another paper. (Note Mr. Obama – we did not get the money from the government).
We searched for just the right paper for over a year. Several times we thought we had found it but something would always happen. The seller would decide not to sell or we would decide it was not the right place for us.
Our goal was to end up somewhere between Denver and Dallas.
A broker in Austin insisted we needed to look at Silsbee. We did and with the assistance of Mr. Bob Read we ended up in Silsbee.
During the first few years, I really thought this might be a short term location. However the place grows on you and now I would not think of owning a newspaper in any other locale.
I got an email from Ron this week. He says he is preparing for his final months in the military and thinking of what he would like to do with his time when he gets out. He says….. I might like to write a column once again just to show us how it is done.
We’ll look forward to reading then, Ron.